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K-Pop, The Power of Fandoms & Global Celebrity with Stephanie Choi | Beyond the Couch S3E11

This week, Sam sits down with ethnomusicologist Stephanie Choi to explore the multifaceted world of K-pop. Stephanie shares what prompted her shift from studying traditional Korean music to K-pop, examining it both as performance art and as a cultural phenomenon with global impact. They discuss the industrial system behind K-pop, the linguistic and physical proximity that fosters closeness between idols and fans, and the significant influence of fandoms in shaping the industry. The conversation also touches on deeper themes such as the impact of colonialism, Hollywood stereotypes, and the varied implications for Asian American versus South Korean celebrities. Additionally, they analyze how BTS broke into the US market, the selling and purchasing of intimacy within fandoms, and the differences between K-pop fan interactions and conventional parasocial relationships.

Stephanie Jiyun [Jee-yon] Choi (she/her) is a postdoctoral researcher at the Asia Research Institute at the University at Buffalo. She is working on her K-pop ethnography which focuses on cultural globalization, gender and labor politics, and the affective economy of K-pop. Stephanie has interviewed more than 70 people in the K-pop world, from idol singers to industry workers, and most importantly, fans. Connect with Stephanie at

Bridges Mental Health aims to connect Asian, Pacific Islander, South Asian Americans (APISA) with culturally responsive mental health professionals and resources. We hope to make mental health care more accessible and approachable across the Asian diaspora.
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